If you were to describe me, you might say something like, “he has blue eyes, brown hair…hmm….reads a lot, likes foreign languages…hmm….I don’t know?” None of these things are wrong, in fact they’re all correct, but after this, you’d struggle. Not because I inherently defy description, but because it’s difficult to describe anyone past their obvious physical appearance and a few basic observations about their likes, dislikes, and habits.
Go ahead, try it, attempt to describe any of your friends. You’ll feel you have a sense for what they’re like, but you will find it difficult to attach any concrete statements to their various qualities.
Now for something really mind-bending: try and describe yourself, beyond your physical appearance. Be honest, but try and be as detailed as possible. Not very easy, is it? And so brings us to the thesis of this post: for all practical purposes, personality is a myth.
Everyone is Always Changing
I know, that’s a controversial statement, but necessarily so. The reason it’s so difficult to describe your friends or even yourself in any meaningful way is that people are not constants, they are constantly in flux.
What you like one day is not what you like the next. How you act one day is not how you act the next, and how you act in three years is probably even more different. You develop bad habits and break them, you learn new skills and apply them, you treat others poorly one day, and royally the next. To describe yourself as “loyal” or “unreliable” or “petty” or “friendly” is really just an approximation — every person has such a range of possible behaviors, opinions, and opportunities for growth or recession that words simply fall short of appropriate description.